by Margaret Stockard
Children learn by imagining and doing. I have seen rocks become families. Legos become armies. Stuffed animals become best friends. Plastic fruits become a gourmet meal. As a child, I remember being enamored by a fort in my backyard, where I was able to spend countless hours drumming up storylines with my sister. Who hasn’t lit up when the new refrigerator comes in and you have an entire world at your fingertips with that huge box!? It’s now a tunnel into a cave. A bridge over a lava pit. A spaceship flying to the moon. A quiet place for your plush pals to take a nap. The branches of imagination are endless. Albert Einstein once stated: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Now I do believe that knowledge is quite valuable and imagination is based off of knowledge, but the limits of that creative inspiration are endless. With technology being such an ever-present silhouette on today’s culture, the idea of pretend play and keeping it alive is all the more crucial. Pretend play activates problem-solving dialogue. Children learn how to take turns, share responsibility, become someone different. It also allows for language skills and thinking skills to be harnessed. Kids pretend to be parents, teachers, friends, heroes, enemies, animals…etc. Their ideas shift and their play shifts. A cardboard box is never just a cardboard box.
Here is a video about a young boy who befriends a cardboard box and has many wonderful adventures with it: